Filling during drum solos

Discussion in 'Ask Michael Dimin' started by Jazz Ad, Apr 18, 2003.

  1. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Hi Mike.

    My questions relates more to jam bands, funk, jazz-rock, ... and mostly modal songs.

    When the guitarist plays a solo, I try to play more harmonically to fill the chords he doesn't play, or get a fatter yet quieter sound to support him.
    Same for horns. They are soloists by nature, so I mostly support them as usual.

    Now, what to do when the drummer takes his solo ?
    It tends to sound empty and it doesn't "flow" into the rest of the tune, if you know what I mean. I could pump the rhythm crazy, but then I may restrict him.
  2. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Clinician: EA, Zon, Boomerang, TI. Author "The Art of Solo Bass"
    Durning the solo, you'll most often want to be quiet. Let her have the spotlight. Perhaps a good downbeat once and a while. It will give the drummer time to take it out and bring it bring it back.

    More importantly, you have to get over the urge to fill the empty spaces. Music is as much about silence as it is about sound. Often times we feel the need to fill every space. Try the opposite.

  3. Nick Gann

    Nick Gann Talkbass' Tubist in Residence

    Mar 24, 2002
    Silver Spring, MD
    I am reminded of a quote, I forget from where...

    "A good musician knows what notes to play, but a great musician knows what notes not to play."

    Or something to that effect :meh: ;)
  4. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Clinician: EA, Zon, Boomerang, TI. Author "The Art of Solo Bass"
    Ed and Nick,

    Thanks for the input (ed, you've been trolling my fourm again ;) )

    Jack DeJohnette once said that he listens for what's not being played.

  5. Nick Gann

    Nick Gann Talkbass' Tubist in Residence

    Mar 24, 2002
    Silver Spring, MD
    My basses are sticker free ;)

    It is refreshing being able to talk about music with people. But there is no shortage of that around here, you just gotta look for it a little bit.

    I am only a 16 year old kid, and am by no means an expert on anything, but I think I have a lot to offer, and I do when I can. I get a lot more from Talkbass than I give to Talkbass, and I love it.
  6. I certainly can't offer the insight or expertise that Mike and Ed can, but a really simple idea that one of my bands uses (the one that actually plays anything resembling jazz or jam...) is to just hit on the chord changes. For example, we'd often play 12-bar blues, and for the drum solo the rest of the band would hit a root on I, I, IV, I, V, IV, I, V. Rather trite, I believe, but it sounds decent and keeps things moving. This obviously only makes sense on slower progressions; hitting every change when changes occur every two beats doesn't result in much of a "solo".

    Alternately, you could just listen to the experts and shut up and hope the drummer doesn't lose the beat in the midst of his crazy solo. ;)
  7. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Lots of good advices here. Thanks a lot.

    Most of the time, all I do is play the root on the first time of every so many bars, to keep the pulse of the tune going while my drummer buddy expresses himself.

    The ostinato is nice too, but then I do it very quietly in the background, more an effect than real playing.
    Playing a short phrase together with another musician as suggested, say the trombone or guitar, might devellop interesting layers of sound that could be used as a base for soloes.

    As a general rule, I try to fight overplaying.
    I am guilty of it, especially in high pace music.
    I set my basses with heavy jauges and set them high for this reason, along with getting a sound I prefer.
    I like to built ambiences that will fit the tune, and listen to the whole sound of the band more than to what I play.

    I also use too many cliches and "licks" in my lines. I have a bunch of them in stock so it doesn't appear too much, but on a given progression I may always use the same type of walking line or riff.
    It participates in making my lines too busy.

    My concern regarding the drum solo is that it always makes everybody stop or so.
    I simply wonder if there is a way to have a drum solo while other instruments keep playing over the same progressions, making it a full part of the song.
    Drum solos feel "forced" to me sometimes. Like Hey, let's insert the drum solo here.
  8. jdombrow

    jdombrow Supporting Member

    Jan 16, 2002
    Colorado Springs, CO
    Or, you could do what one bass player did during a show that I was watching. While the band was jamming and trading solos, the bass player kept pointing at the drummer who kept shaking his head "no" -- he didn't want a drum solo. Finally, the bass player just walked off stage, sat down at the bar and ordered a pitcher of beer. The drummer (who was now playing a solo he didn't want to take) kept motioning for him to come back to the stage, but the bass player just sat there grinning and slowly drinking his beer.

  9. fivestringdan

    fivestringdan Supporting Member

    Dec 4, 2001
    Little Rock, AR
  10. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Funny; that's also the way Mingus taught his drummers to stop soloing and play the song.